There is less information about trichotillomania treatment, because research and studies of this disorder is limited. But generally it can be treated, especially in children. But in adults, it is more likely to become chronic and more difficulty to cure. However each case of trichotillomania is unique and the prognosis can vary from patient to patient.
What actually is trichotillomania?
It is a kind of disorder when you have the irresistible urges to frequently pull out your hairs of eyebrows /eyelashes, scalp, or other parts of your body. This can put you at greater chance of having some patchy bald spots but you may try hardly to disguise.
In some cases, it is manageable condition but sometime it also can be very overwhelming and you cannot control the urge to pull your hairs. Medically, it can be categorized into a kind of impulse control disorder (a group of mental illness that often characterized by the repeated failure to resist urges /impulses to act or do in ways that are harmful or even very dangerous). Most patients realize that these harmful urges can hurt themselves, but with unknown reason they cannot control themselves.
How do you get it?
The exact cause of this disorder is not known yet. But like most things of complex disorders, experts believe that a combination of factors of environment and genetic may play a role in triggering this disorder. Furthermore, there is a theory that changes of brain chemicals such as dopamine & serotonin may also have a significant contribution.
While the exact reason behind trichotillomania is still unclear, the following are some factors that may increase your risk of developing this kind of disorder.
- Age – statistics show that it is more likely to occur in adolescence (between about 11 and 13 years of age). There is also a chance for kids before the age of 5 to have hair-pulling problem, but typically this is easier to go on its own way without involving any medical intervention.
- Having certain negative emotions. For many patients with this disorder, hair pulling is one of common ways of dealing with certain uncomfortable feelings /negative emotions such as depression, irritability, stress, and anxiety.
- On the other hand, sometime hair-pulling habit also can be the option of dealing with positive reinforcement. For instance, some patients with this mental disorder use the habit of pulling hair to provide a measure of relief.
- Having a family history of trichotillomania. In other words, this disorder may run in families.
- Gender! Most statistics show that this disorder is often reported in women than in men. However, experts believe that this issue is not the major concern. Men are less likely to find help if they have any health mental problem if compared with women. This is one of reasons that may be able to explain those statistics. Moreover, the cases of this hair-pulling disorder in early childhood are pretty equal both in women and in men.
- Having other mental disorders such as eating disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder!
What are the most effective options for trichotillomania treatment?
Again as noted before, there are few options for trichotillomania treatment. But like in most things in mental health problems, talk-therapy such as psychotherapy is still the primary part of the treatment plan.
It is a kind of counseling that can help patient to get to know the major reason of her /his problem. In this therapy, doctor will explore a lot of issues associated with the symptoms and the triggered factors.
There is a type of psychotherapy called ‘habit reversal training’. The major goal of this approach is to help patient learn a lot of things about when & where the urges of pulling hair occur – and how to control these urges! This kind of psychotherapy also can involve some relaxations techniques to help patient learn on how to decrease tensions related with the urges of pulling hair. If necessary, your doctor also can ask you to take cognitive therapy to help manage and reduce any distorted thinking that can trigger the symptom to flare up.
And to help you cope with your emotional problem, your doctor may also prescribe some antidepressants such as SSRIs ‘selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors’. Antidepressants are common medications for the treatment of other mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety.